For all the wonder of dulcet tones coming from a century-old music box, we’ve got to admit that [Markus]‘ wavetable synthesis build is still pretty impressive. Of course, the Internet cred gained by doing a demo of Still Alive helps too.
Wavetable synthesis stores a one cycle long waveform in RAM that can be played on a loop at varying frequencies. This technique has been around since the late 70s and can be found in a lot of the classic synths of the 80s and serves as the basis for Atari MOD music and the Game Boy chiptunes produced with Little Sound DJ
[Markus] found a pair of battery-powered laptop speakers and decided a music box would be a wonderful project. Inspired by [ChaN]‘s ATtiny wavetable synthesizer, [Markus] decided to up the ante and use a PIC32 microcontroller to make the programming a little more digestable. The entire project (with an awesome dead bug soldering job) is nearly as large as the PIC itself.
[Markus] threw up the source code along with some Python scripts to convert waveforms and MIDI files into something the chip can understand. Before you check that out, be sure to look at the Still Alive demo.